24-Hour Bikepacking Within Reach of Los Angeles
A world of adventure awaits just miles from downtown, if you know where to look... and own a bikepacking setup
Jordan Haggard Clark
Sony a7 II
The hills around the Los Angeles Basin have transformed from a dry-dead brown to a vibrant rainbow after a very wet winter. In addition to bringing life back after seven years of drought, the rain has washed everything clean and created the most excellent tacky trail conditions. With the green in our eyes and the weekend upon us a few friends and I knew we should take a break from the city and make our way into the mountains.
After much debate on route and itinerary it was decided we would ride Backbone Trail to its end, descend down to the beach and lay our heads in the dirt at Leo Carrillo State Park.
"Even in Los Angeles, given just 24 hours, there’s plenty of adventure to be found within arms reach."
At 3pm on a Saturday afternoon we loaded our bikes with camping gear and drove north to the trailhead. After 20 miles of winding single track we reached the end of Backbone as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. After a moment of soaking in the view we charged six miles down Yerba Buena Rd. to the Pacific Coast Highway and then a mile and half south, to the entrance of Leo Carrillo in the dark.
After paying our $10 per cyclist due we made our way to the designated Hike In/Bike In Campsite. We dropped two bundles of firewood near the pit and a six pack of beer on the picnic table only to discover there was already someone occupying the site.
Luckily, as I peered through the dark I saw a friend from Santa Cruz Bicycles, Ian Stowe, was standing just a few feet away. Turns out Ian was on the first leg of a week long surf/bike trip down the coast of California. The three of us were thrilled to talk to Ian about the 70 miles of riding and two hours of surfing he had done earlier that day.
As the clock neared midnight we all crawled into our sleeping bags. Seven hours later we woke, drank some coffee, repacked the bikes, said good bye to Ian, and worked our way back to where we had started. Even in L.A., given just 24 hours, there’s plenty of adventure to be found within arms reach.